Every father would want to be involved with their children’s lives and spend as much time with them as possible. But not every father is privileged to have a lot of time on their hands. Work demands and business trips can easily crowd out equally important activities such as family time. As a result, every opportunity busy fathers have to be with their families are like rare gems.
Are these fathers at a disadvantage compared with those who have less demanding jobs? Will their children be made to bear the consequences of their absence?
Busy fathers will be glad to know that it is the quality of father involvement not just the quantity of it that matters (Halle, 2003). (This is not to say that quantity is not important.) Fathers ought to spend as much time with their children as they can, when they can. If a father is not able to have frequent physical contact with his child yet provides a warm, stimulating, and positive contact when possible, his child can still benefit from his occasional involvement if done right. A child with access to her father learns about life and living through interactions with him. Busy fathers can experiment with creative ways to be available, physically and psychologically, to their children.
One such father is Parminder Singh, who was the MD of Twitter India, Southeast Asia and Middle East – you can already tell that he was a busy man – when his son was just 5 years old. Parminder would tell bedtime stories about a made-up character – a mischievous boy called Puggi – to his Son every night. This daily ritual then slowly became ‘every other day’ till it settled into a weekend routine. By the time the stories stopped, when his son was turning 13, Parminder had clocked well over a 1000 stories.
In a letter to his son, Parminder confessed that “Puggi was just an excuse, a front, a living version of a few values that I hold true.”
Today, Parminder continues to be passionate about fathering and support the Dads for Life movement as Mediacorp’s Chief Commercial and Digital Officer.
Read excerpts of Parminder’s letter to his son and the values he was trying to impart here.
Most fathers like Mr. Parminder who are busy executives have not chosen their careers over their families, and so should not be looked upon with contempt. On the contrary, they ought to be praised for exemplifying many good traits such as hard work, grit, and commitment to their children – all necessary for success.
Centre for Fathering empathizes with busy fathers and encourages them to do their best using every resource available to them. Our ICAN Fathering (and Parenting) Workshop equips fathers to be Effective Dads, so that they can be as effective at home (in marriage and parenting) as they already are at work.
This article is by Parcsen Loke, a husband and father of three children (27, 25, and 14). He is also the Deputy Head of Programmes and Development at the Centre for Fathering. Please feel free to contact him if you have any questions about this article. Mr Parminder Singh’s story was used with his permission.